Island Life  --  North America Travel

    Maui Top Five Things to Do

    Best of the Best, Maui Hawaii USA

    Location: Maui Hawaii

    MAUI is open for business and needs your support. Although Lahaina has years and years of recovery, the rest of Maui welcomes you. PLEASE consider supporting the aid efforts for the residents of Maui. We suggest the following;

    Maui Food Bank

    Maui Strong

    American Red Cross of Hawaii

    Maui United Way

    Maui Humane Society

    A re-share from October 2020 – Please check current status of individual suggestions as the situation is fluid.

    Maui is hands down my favorite of all the Hawaiian Islands. We have now been on Maui for seven weeks and still have two more weeks to go! Everything about it I love. And despite the fact there isn’t anything negative I can say about this beautiful place, I do have some favorites. So today I thought I would share with you my Maui top five things to do – best of the best.

    Top Five Beaches

    Secret Beach Makena
    1. Keawakapu – our most frequented beach in South Kihei offers a wide sandy beach, warm clear water and gentle waves
    2. Makena Beaches – Makena also in the south, is dotted with public access to dozens of beautiful and often secluded beach. Secret Beach is worth finding. MaKena Beach State Park is a wonderful huge expanse of a beach and rarely busy.
    3. Black Beach Hana – for the sheer beauty of it, Black Beach on the road to Hana is worth a visit
    4. Baldwin Beach – on the north shore Baldwin Beach is great for body surfing
    5. Napili Bay Beach – I have not swam at this beach but it is so beautiful and has easy access at the north end of the island
    Maui Beaches

    Top Five Snorkeling

    Keawakapu, Kihei
    1. Black Rock Kaanapali – the beach in front of the Kaanapali Sheraton known as Black Rock is one of my favorite places to snorkel. Clear and full of fish and turtles.
    2. Turtle Rock – On a guided snorkel trip a few years ago we had the most amazing time at Turtle Rock – hundreds of turtles here.
    3. Molokini – Though sometimes crowded, a snorkel tour to Molokini is a must at least once in your life to see the abundant marine life here.
    4. Makena Beaches – there are several public access beaches on this long stretch of south Maui with some of the best and easily accessed snorkeling on the island.
    5. Keawakapu – my favorite beach, and the one closest to where we usually stay, has an easy access into the water with snorkel options at the far north of the beach around a large lava reef. Wonderful sealife, turtles and fish.

    Top Five Hikes

    Kapalua Coastal Trail
    1. Waihee Ridge – mid island, five mile roundtrip with incline to spectacular views but weather can be unpredictable.
    2. Kapalua Coastal Trail – hugging the coast from Kapalua to Napili this rugged and beautiful hike has views of Molokai, Lanai and the ocean. Windy.
    3. Halemau’u Haleakala – hike down into the crater starting at 8000 foot level where you will find easy parking. The trail is a switch back and easy for most fit hikers. Temperatures can be very cold at times.
    4. Sliding Sands Haleakala – this is a work out let me tell you, but if you are fit it’s spectacular. Bring lots of water, be prepared for wind and cold or heat and sun you never know. A great place to see the rare and beautiful Silver Sword plant.
    5. Hoapili, La Perouse – past Makena where the road ends you will find parking and the trailhead of the Hoapili, the historic Kings Road. The rough trail takes you over a 300 year old lava field to the far south end of the island. Bring lots of water, it is a hot and dry trail.

    See a great article here with more great hikes from Pride of Maui.

    Top Five Fine Dining

    Mamas Fish House Maui
    Mamas Fish House
    1. Mama’s Fish House, Paia – one of the supreme dining experiences anywhere in the world
    2. Mala Ocean Tavern, Lahaina – Tiny but local chef has created a wonderful menu
    3. Sea House, Napili – One of the best pieces of fish I have ever had
    4. Roy’s Kaanapali – Celebrated chef Roy Yamachuchi’s restaurant never disappoints
    5. Ko, Wailea – we celebrated our 38th wedding anniversary at Ko. It was incredible. Beautiful location and great service.

    Top Five Casual Dining (six in this category!)

    Star Noodle Maui
    Star Noodle, Lahaina
    1. Sam Sato, Wailuku – tourists don’t know about this hidden local gem. Best noodles anywhere
    2. Paia Fish Market (Kihei, Paia and Lahaina) – favorite among visitors and locals
    3. Three’s Bar & Grill Kihei – creative menu of delicious small plates
    4. Maui Brewing (Kihei and Kaanapali) – simple pub food with a healthy twist
    5. Star Noodle, (Currently Closed) Lahaina – simply incredible. Be sure to have the Vietnamese pancake
    6. Cafe O’Lei – Various locations. Great food, great price and prix fix menu daily.

    Top Five Take Out Foods

    1. L & L Plate Lunch, Kihei – quintessential Hawaiian plate lunch
    2. Maui Taco, Kihei – fish tacos!
    3. Island Gourmet Market, Wailea – great selection of local cuisine as well as sandwiches, pizza and more
    4. Honolua Store, Kapalua – similar to above as well as a great gift shop
    5. Food Trucks, Everywhere and for every taste bud

    Top Five Breakfast Places

    Paia Maui
    Island Fresh Cafe, Paia

    1. Kihei Cafe, popular, casual spot in Kihei
    2. Sugar Beach Bake Shop, North Kihei – you gotta try the malasada donuts
    3. Kula Bistro, Upcountry great Eggs Benedict
    4. Island Fresh Cafe, Paia worth the trip, healthy and inexpensive
    5. The Gazebo Kapalua (Currently Closed)

    Top Five Places for Drinks

    Lahaina Maui
    Waikiki Brewing Co, Lahaina
    1. Maui Brewing, Kihei
    2. Merriman’s for Sunset, Kapalua
    3. Hula Grill Kaanapali
    4. Tommy Bahama’s Wailea (try the Mai Tai here)
    5. Gannons Wailea

    Top Five Just For the Heck of It

    Nakalele Blow Hole
    1. Ocean Vodka, tasting and tours, Kula – an innovative entreprenueal effort on Maui worth your support. I love the gin.
    2. Spend a day shopping in Paia and Makawao
    3. Nakalele Blow Hole, Napili – a wonderful site. Don’t get too close.
    4. Sunrise or Sunset Haleakala (sunrise reservations required. Learn more here.)
    5. Drive Hana Backwards (counterclockwise) – miss the crowds by doing this drive the opposite way most people go. Read what we wrote about Going to Hana Backwards here.

    Top Four Inexpensive Golf

    Maui Nui Golf Club
    Maui Nui Golf, Kihei

    Golf can be very expensive on Maui, but if you know where to go, you can play nine or 18 holes on a budget. Here are our favorite budget friendly courses (we can’t find five, so four will do).

    1. Maui Nui, Kihei – well cared for grounds at a great price
    2. Waiehu County Golf, Wailuku – county run course with a magnificent ocean view
    3. Pukalani, Makawao, upcountry course with beautiful views, sometimes wet
    4. The Dunes at Maui Lani, Kahului, beautiful course built on natural dunes.

    That’s My List

    So if you are thinking about visiting Maui for the first time, or are planning to return for another visit, check out some of my top fives – you can’t go wrong with any of them.

    Wailea Sunrise

    Be a Kind & Generous Visitor

    And remember, Maui took a big hit during the pandemic and is now dealing with an unprecedented disaster. The local people have lost lives, family, homes, jobs, income and businesses closed permanently, on this island that depends on tourism. If you can afford to visit Maui, you can afford to make a donation while you are there. Please be generous.

    Help breathe life back into the local economy by shopping and dining at locally owned stores, supporting locally run activities, taking time to talk to and understand the local people and their culture, and donate to a local non-profit agency that is helping the local people.


    Read My Favorite Islands Around the World here.

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Furrows by Namwali Serpell

    A strange book. I spent a lot of time wondering what was happening…but I stuck with it. Liked but didn’t love it. Here is my book review The Furrows by Namwali Serpell

    A Celebrated Novel

    This book, much celebrated and awarded just didn’t do it for me. Sometimes it happens. My mood? My stress level? Who knows, but I struggled. But other’s have certainly found this book remarkable – New York Magazine claiming it “A triumph”.

    I can certainly say it was unique. A wild ride through a families grief after the loss of a child. A mystery of sorts as you navigate an ever changing narrative of how this child died. Or did he die? Is he just missing?


    At its core, this novel is about grief and the multitudes of ways people negotiate grief. Cassandra, who was the only witness to her brothers death is plagued with uncertainty through out her life, her multitude of therapists, her visions and dreams…is she mentally ill?

    Her mother, neurotic and obsessive, with no body ever found, she refuses to believe Wayne is dead. Could a seven year old survive alone somewhere? Has he been kidnapped? Her unwillingness to process through the grief leaves the family torn, disembowled, breft.

    Cassandra’s relationship with her parents – one who stays and focuses only the lost child and one who leaves and starts a whole new family – will be all she has for her entire life following Wayne’s death. Until she meets someone who also is searching…searching for a life without doubt.

    It’s a grim story of mourning and memory, letting go and living.

    Thank you for reading my book review The Furrows by Namwali Serpell.

    ***Three stars for The Furrows by Namwali Serpell

    Read last week’s book review The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

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    North America Travel

    Fall Hike in Mount Saint Helens

    We usually do our mountain hikes at Mount Rainier, it’s about an hour and half from our summer home in Washington. But we decided to venture a bit further, and drove the two and half hours to Mount Saint Helens National Monument for a fabulous Fall Hike in Mount Saint Helens.

    Mount Saint Helens

    May 18, 1980

    I was in college in May of 1980 when Mount Saint Helens blew her top. It’s a day I will never forget. One of those “where were you” moments. Fifty-seven people died, the entire region was ravaged and the landscape was forever changed.

    Spirit Lake with Mount Adams in the distance

    It’s been probably twenty years since I was in the national monument, and I was astonished to find how scared it still is. It’s a testament to both the power of the earth and the rebirth of nature. I stand in awe at this mountain, as I do for all the mountains in the great State of Washington.

    Johnston Ridge

    Fall colors

    We drove to the Johnston Ridge Observatory to begin our hike. Named for David Johnston, a 30-year-old volcanologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, who was swept away by the catastrophic eruption of Mount St. Helens on the morning of May 18, 1980.

    At the observatory there is plenty of parking and a visitor center. This is the start of several hikes. We decided to do Harry’s Ridge Hike.

    At the top of Harry’s Ridge overlooking Spirit Lake

    Harry’s Ridge

    Named for Harry R. Truman (October 30, 1896– May 18, 1980) was an American businessman, bootlegger, and prospector. He lived near Mount St. Helens, an active volcano in the state of Washington, and was the owner and caretaker of Mount St. Helens Lodge at Spirit Lake near the base of the mountain. Truman came to fame as a folk hero in the months leading up to the volcano’s 1980 eruption after refusing to leave his home despite evacuation orders. He was killed by a pyroclastic flow that overtook his lodge and buried the site under 150 ft (46 m) of volcanic debris. (source Wikipedia)

    The trail is well maintained by dry and dusty

    The Ridge is an out and back 7.5 mile hike with fabulous views of of Spirit Lake and Mount Saint Helens. In the fall the area is covered in colorful red bushes (blueberries) and other low growing foliage, creating a beautiful Fall Hike in Mount Saint Helens. This hike offers almost no shade and can be very hot and dusty. Bring more water than you think you will need.

    Picnic lunch on Harry’s Ridge

    Visit Mount Saint Helens

    There is so much to do in the beautiful area from hiking and camping to fishing and sight-seeing. Learn more about Mount Saint Helens here.

    Hail Mount Saint Helens

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    Read about our favorite Day Hikes in the Pacific Northwest here.

    See last week’s post Year Eight of The Grand Adventure Begins

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

    Sometimes wonderful, often strange, I struggled with parts of this book but in the end loved it. Here is my book review The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

    Pre-Civil War

    Slavery is alive and well but the great plantations of Virginia are diminishing and struggling. We are introduced to Hiram, a mixed race slave fathered by the plantation owner of Lockless. Hiram’s mother was sold when he was very young and he struggles to find his own place. Unlike any slavery novel I’ve read the vocabulary surrounding the era is interested. The “enslaved” are referred to as “tasked”, the plantation owners are the “quality” and the low-class whites are “the low”.

    Conduction is the super human ability he possesses, with a handful of other like him, he is recruited to help with the underground railroad. He is betrayed by one he trusts, loses the love of his life, meets Harriet Tubman and is able to find his way in helping the Underground, and eventually finding his way back to the family he loves.


    Hiram knows always that he is different than many of the other slaves. But he doesn’t understand the super natural events that he has witnessed in his young life. He knows he is intelligent with an extraordinary photographic memory, but only after his half brother dies in a freak accident does his unique super natural abilities come to light…for both himself and one of the “quality”.

    Not Just Another Slavery Story

    Coates debut novel is a unique twist on the Pre-Civil War story, a look at life in slavery, the Underground work down by black and white alike, and the super natural power many African slaves believed could and would save them from the depths of a horrific life.

    Four tars for The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Thanks for reading my book review The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

    See last week’s book review Tom Lake by Ann Patchett.

    My current read Icy Sparks by Gwyn Hyman Rubio

    We love it when you pin and share our book reviews.

    Become a World Traveler  --  Inspire

    Year Eight of the Grand Adventure Begins

    Many images in today’s post from Canva

    In the beginning we didn’t know if we would do this for 6 months or six years. In the beginning we didn’t know much. But eight years later, 270,539 miles flown, 128 countries visited – well we know a lot. And yes, I do count countries, particularly now as I work to keep track of the growing number.

    It was 2016 when we launched our travel life. After three years of prep – we were anxious to get started. But as we launched, we also knew we had a lot still to learn. Honestly, we won’t ever stop learning. The magnificent cultures, ancient history, remarkable people, delicious food…it’s all been such an eye-opening experience.

    Suitcase nomad
    Our bags the day we left November 2016 – so shiny and clean. We still are using the same bags today.

    Covid cramped our style for a while, but, we actually learned a lot from the PanDamit too. We learned to be more spontaneous, flexible and adventurous. We have learned to navigate a more difficult travel environment, more expensive and more crowded. We also give more consideration to overtourism, choosing as much as possible the less traveled destinations. But here we are, Year Eight of the Grand Adventure Begins.

    How Much More?

    Year Seven in Bolivia

    We get this question a lot. We don’t exactly know the answer…but we both feel some changes will happen in year nine. Perhaps shorter trips, with more time at home between the trips…perhaps? What we do know is we have put together a very unique itinerary that will take us on the road for eight months from Asia to Europe, Oceania to Africa – hitting some major bucket list destinations. It’s time to do it again.

    One Thing Different

    There is one thing a bit different this time…we are doing more tours than ever before. Why? Because as we traverse the countries we still would like to visit, many are difficult to navigate without a guide. Like last spring in Bolivia, we have chosen to allow reputable tour companies to take us through three places this time; Papua New Guinea, Socotra (off the coast of Yemen), and Madagascar. See more about these destinations below.

    Where do we Begin?

    Papua New Guinea

    Papua New Guinea (Canva)

    Confirmed 12 days – tour

    In September we have a long grueling travel day from Seattle to LA to Manila and finally to Papua New Guinea. We will spend 12 days in PNG with a company called Indigo Safaris. We will be two of only about 400 non-natives to witness the annual Goroka Festival where more than 100 tribes of Papua New Guinea come together to celebrate their unique and colorful culture. Did you know there are 800 languages in Papua New Guinea?

    Hong Kong

    Hong Kong (Canva)

    Confirmed 7 days – Airbnb

    After PNG we will head to the big city of Hong Kong. We were meant to visit Hong Kong in 2019, but the riots there had us changing our plans. We will try again; I have booked a cooking class, some tours and we also plan to walk across the border to the tiny country of Macau.


    Cebu Philippines (Canva)

    Confirmed 32 days – Airbnb

    Next stop the island of Bohol in the Philippines. We have only briefly been in Manila, and we look forward to a relaxing month on Bohol where we can kick back and regroup in October after the whirlwind of September.

    Winter Down Under


    Hobart Tasmania (Canva)

    Confirmed 4 weeks in an RV mainland and 30 days Airbnb Tasmania

    As usual we like to spend as much time as possible in perpetual summer, so all of November and all of December we will be down under. We visited Australia very early in the Grand Adventure, but there is so much more we want to see. This time we begin in Brisbane. Then we have rented an RV for one month to travel south to Melbourne at a slow pace. In early December we fly to the Australian island of Tasmania and spend all of December relaxing in Hobart where we have rented a darling historic home.

    We debated about heading from here to one or two of our past favorite countries (New Zealand and French Polynesia) but instead we will fly west. We know we will be back to those countries again some day.

    South East Asia


    Singapore (Canva)

    Confirmed 3 days hotel

    I love this city/country but boy is it expensive, so we will just have a quick visit to say hello again to one of the world’s most beautiful places.


    Koh Chang Thailand (Canva)

    Confirmed 30 days Airbnb

    Back to Thailand! Thailand was the very FIRST country we visited when we began the Grand Adventure in November 2016. It’s a beautiful country; friendly, inexpensive, and delicious. We will spend one month on the island of Koh Chang.



    Sicily Italy (Canva)

    Confirmed 7 days road trip Bologna to Puglio and 19 days Airbnb Sicily

    Even though it will only be February, we are headed to the amazing country of Italy for an entire month. Keeping our fingers crossed for dry and not too cold; we will visit Bologna and the country of San Marino, the Puglia region and then on to Sicily.



    Egypt (Canva)

    Confirmed 3 days hotel

    We will have a brief stop back in Cairo as we transit through but we are holding a couple of days open in hopes that the new, decades in the making, Egyptian Museum will be open. But we are really going to Egypt because that is where we pick up our tour to…


    Socotra, Yemen (Canva)

    Confirmed 7 days private tour

    Not on many people’s bucket list, Yemen was never on mine either. But my husband has long wanted to visit the island of Socotra off the coast of Yemen ever since we read the book The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie. This is a more complicated country to visit, so we are on a private tour. We are using the company Inertia, who we have spent months working with to make this happen. Should definitely be different…and exciting.

    Back to Europe


    Crete, Greece (Canva)

    Confirmed 18 days Airbnb

    Back to Europe we go, with our first stop the island of Crete. This is one of the Greek Islands we have not visited, and I have heard so much about it. So we will spend 18 days enjoying the Greek life (and food) once again. Here we will be joined by friends, two couples we really enjoy traveling with.


    Albania (Canva)

    Not yet confirmed

    We are still trying to work our way through the last of the countries we had to abandon when Covid shut down our travels, and Albania is one. We have really enjoyed all of the Balkan countries we have visited over the years and it is one of our most favorite regions in the world. Inexpensive and so welcoming, we look forward to one week in Albania.

    North Macedonia

    Lake Ohrid, North Macedonia (Canva)

    Not yet confirmed

    An easy drive over the border from Albania we could just do a day-trip to North Macedonia but we really want to spend some time in the beautiful Lake Ohrid region we have heard so much about. So we will visit for four days then return to Albania for our flight out.


    Serbia (Canva)

    Not yet confirmed

    An easy flight to Belgrade will get us to Serbia. We only plan to be in Belgrade one day, then we will do a road trip to many of the ancient and beautiful sites in this landlocked country and former Yugoslavian state. Serbia remains a less visited part of Central Europe and I can’t wait to see it.


    Vienna Austria (Canva)

    Not yet confirmed

    Somehow I have traveled all over Europe but have missed Vienna entirely. My husband has been there and keeps telling me I will LOVE it, so Vienna it is for four days. It’s also a great place to get a flight to our next destination.

    And Back to Africa


    Madagascar (Canva)

    Confirmed 10 days tour with Fosa Travel

    From Vienna we will fly via Addis Ababa Ethiopia to the island of Madagascar. We have been blessed to visit several Indian Ocean islands, but Madagascar is a first for us. We have booked a private tour for ten days with Fosa Travel and it will be a dream come true for me to see the Lemurs and the magnificent Baobab Trees. A very big Bucket List for me.

    Back to Europe to Wrap It Up

    Spain and Andorra

    Andorra (Canva)

    Not yet confirmed

    Andorra is one of our Covid-deleted countries, and I am excited to see this tiny country that borders Spain. We will fly into Barcelona and drive to Andorra for a short four day visit before returning to Barcelona for our flight back to Seattle. We expect to arrive back in Seattle May 17th; 19 countries, 8 months and a lifetime of memories.

    Year Eight of the Grand Adventure Begins

    Year Eight here we come!

    I’ll say again, we have no intention of trying to visit every country in the world (BTW there are 195 recognized countries. United Nations recognizes 193 and there are a couple unrecognized we have visited including Taiwan). However, after this trip, we still have a few left in the bucket. So, as we think about what lies ahead, we certainly know we will never stop traveling. We know we have some rock solid favorites we would like to return to. We know we have some difficult countries left we would like to see with a guide. But we also know, particularly after the PanDamit, we should not look too far out into the future…things can change so fast. So, we will embrace year eight with bells on, and we hope you will come along for the ride. As always, we feel so grateful to all of you who faithfully read and ask questions and engage with us through our crazy travel life. Thank you.

    Note – there may be times when I can not make a deadline to have a travel post every Friday. Additionally I expect to not have easy access to WiFi. Just keep watching and I’ll get to it as soon as I can.

    See last week’s post, our final of the Hidden Gems series, Hidden Gems of the Pacific Northwest – Pampered Wilderness Millersylvania.

    See our post My Travel Wardrobe – 8 Months & 19 Countries 2023 here.

    Considering full-time or long-term travel yourself? I wrote this post last year and it may help answer some of your questions. Click here for Becoming A Traveler. We’d love to connect out in the Big World with you!

    We love it when you comment, pin and share our posts. Thank you. Away we go!

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Tom Lake by Ann Patchett

    I have read at least a half a dozen Ann Patchett novels over the years (she has 14 novels I think) and this one, Tom Lake, is my favorite by far. A beautiful story. Here is my book review Tom Lake by Ann Patchett.


    I’ve been waiting for the first book to fall that really uses the pandemic and lockdown as part of the plot. Tom Lake does it effortlessly. Without drama or politics, the pandemic and the family bubble of the Nelson family during Covid, provides Patchett the perfect opportunity to unravel this tale.

    Once Upon a Time

    Northern Michigan in the spring of 2020 is about as far away from Hollywood and Movie Stars as you could get. But here we meet Lara and her three adult daughters. With husband Joe the family operates a cherry farm in Northern Michigan. The girls have returned to the nest during Covid, and together the family is desperately trying to get the cherries off the trees before fruit rots. This work, done all by hand, takes hours and hours, but gives the perfect opportunity for storytelling.

    Daughters Emily, Maisie and Nel, each trying to find their own path in life, want to use the tedious time to hear their mother tell them the story of her brief time as an actress. And her brief time in a relationship with famous actor Peter Duke.


    This is a story about family first and foremost. It’s a look at how our children often can’t see us as people, or understand who we were before we were their parents. It’s also a story about self-discovery, young love, youthful recklessness and true love. It’s a book that makes you think about hope and happiness, even during a historic period where it seemed the world was falling apart. One of the most charming parts of this book is the solid and sublime relationship Lara has with her husband Joe…even in the midst of her narrative to her daughter about her first love Peter Duke. Patchett’s remarkable talent pulls you into the affection and tenderness this family has for each other.


    This book was one of my summer audible reads, in the car. Brilliantly narrated by none other than the incomparable Meryl Streep I highly recommend it as an audible. Although I’m sure it would be just as amazing on kindle or book in hand. Whichever you chose, read Tom Lake by Ann Patchett. One of my favorites of summer 2023.

    Thank you for reading my book review Tom Lake by Ann Patchett.

    *****Five stars for Tom Lake by Ann Patchett. Read last week’s book review The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton.

    My current read The Furrows by Namwali Serpell

    See this year’s Reading Round Up – My Favorite Books of the Year.

    We love it when you share and pin our book reviews.

    Inspire  --  North America Travel

    Hidden Gems of the Pacific Northwest – Pampered Wilderness Millersylvania

    Location: Pacific Northwest

    As I have researched and written this Hidden Gems series this summer I have made some wonderful discoveries…many of which I didn’t have a chance to write about! Perhaps next summer I will continue the quest for all the Hidden Gems of the Pacific Northwest. But in the meantime, today’s final post of the series is about a very unique discovery, and one you should really check out. Let me tell you about Hidden Gems of the Pacific Northwest – Pampered Wilderness Millersylvania.

    Rustic Retreat Cabin, Pampered Wilderness, Millersylvania

    Millersylvania State Park

    For all of my life growing up in the Puget Sound region, I have driven by the sign on Interstate 5 near Olympia directing to Millersylvania State Park. But I have never been there. What an incredible surprise to discover this gorgeous state park, easily accessible to most of the major population centers of western Washington. Wooded campsites, multiple group sites, historic structures, hiking trails, and a Deep Lake…Millersylvania is amazing. It is also home to the only tap house within a Washington State Park…Lakeside Taphouse. So much to explore here!

    Old Growth
    So Many Trails
    Lakeside Taphouse
    One of many historic structures built in the 1930’s by the Conservation Corp
    Ponds and Lakes to enjoy

    Pampered Wilderness

    But the most astonishing discoveries at Millersylvania are the seven “glamping” canvas tents called Pampered Wilderness. What a surprise to find this independently run operation within a State Park. And these little babies aren’t shabby! Beautifully appointed, sparkling clean and comfortable.

    One of seven, we chose Rustic Retreat for our visit

    The seven Cabins or Cottages as they are referred to, are sturdy canvas tents, with wood floors and beams. Each with comfortable Queen Bed, linens, dishes, coffee maker, spices, small refrigerator and microwave. There is no running water but a water container is provided. Additionally there is small deck with chair, a picnic table and a sparkling clean barbecue. Units are all a short walk to the campground bathroom and shower.

    Well constructed and comfortable


    We have “glamped” a couple of times before, and had a particularly lovely experience outside of Aspen Colorado a few years ago. Pampered Wilderness was just as nice, and much closer to home. We visited Pampered Wilderness on a Sunday and Monday night in early August (they are open April through October) and found the park not full but still pretty busy. But we didn’t experience any noise or difficulty.

    The section of Millersylvania that Pampered Wilderness is in is beautifully wooded Old Growth forest with tent sites or sites for very small trailers. Larger RV’s are housed in a different part of the park. We spent one entire day walking the trails of Millersylvania – 8 miles of hiking without getting in our car.

    Lots of room

    Our “cabin” was called Rustic Retreat, but depending on your aesthetic taste you can choose Safari Suite, Shabby Chic, Modern Wilderness, Country Cabin, Cozy Cottage or Fairly Light Cottage. Nightly rate is $244.50 plus tax for two guests. A third guest is an additional $25 and a cot is provided.

    History of the Park

    The Pampered Wilderness website has great information about the history of this beautiful area. They say…

    Historic tree farm

    This historic 842 acre park is nestled in broad stands of old-growth cedar and fir trees. With over 3,000 feet of freshwater shoreline on Deep Lake, it attracts boaters, swimmers and fishermen. It has more than 6 miles of hiking trails. The trails zigzag all around, so you are able to construct a loop of up to 5 miles – or less.

    Deep Lake is very popular
    Hiking through old growth forests

    The park was originally called “Miller’s Glade” by the Miller family, who once owned the property. The family later changed the name to “Millersylvania,” meaning “wooded glade.” The park was originally homesteaded by Squire Lathum in 1855 before being sold to John Miller. Miller’s family gave the property to the state in 1921, stipulating that the land must forever be used as a park.

    Hidden Gems of the Pacific Northwest – Pampered Wilderness Millersylvania

    A true treasure, historic and beautiful, I am so glad to discover this hidden gem. We will definitely be back. I think it would be fun to take the family, and rent a couple cottages. Camping without sleeping on the ground…a girl could get used to that. Fabulous.


    Thank you for reading my final post in this series Hidden Gems of the Pacific Northwest – Pampered Wilderness Millersylvania. See last week’s post My Travel Wardrobe 8 Months & 19 Countries.

    Would you like to read the entire Hidden Gems of the Pacific Northwest series? Here are the links;

    Hidden Gems of the Pacific Northwest -Rhododendron Species Garden

    Hidden Gems of the Pacific Northwest – Rodeo Drive-In

    Hidden Gems of the Pacific Northwest – Olalla Bay Market

    Hidden Gems of the Pacific Northwest – Bloedel Gardens

    Hidden Gems of the Pacific Northwest – Linger Boutique

    Hidden Gems of the Pacific Northwest – Point Defiance Rose Garden

    Hidden Gems of the Pacific Northwest – Maple Pass North Cascades

    Hidden Gems of the Pacific Northwest – Boehm’s Candies

    Hidden Gems of the Pacific Northwest – Hood Canale Beer & Wine Garden

    NEXT FRIDAY we announce our itinerary for the continuation of The Grand Adventure Year Eight! Don’t miss it!

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